Guildford City 1 – 0 Colliers Wood Untied

YOU wait four months for a home win in the league and then two come along at once! A highly disciplined defensive display saw City take all the points in this enthralling encounter. Whilst Colliers Wood really should have won on the balance of possession and shots on goal, Guildford, showing the steel at the back which was their hallmark last season, defended for their lives and then benefited from a lapse of concentration to notch the only goal. While this victory does not quite erase the embarrassing 7-0 thumping at the hands of The Woods back in September it does go some way to restoring some self respect and of course to help safeguard Guildford’s CCL Premier League status for another season.

As has been the case in pretty much every game of Dave Tidy’s time in charge, there were more new faces on display at the Spectrum for this encounter – most notably Ziyaad Hussein, a tall and powerful winger who appears to be a great acquisition. The game also marked the debut of right back Jake Rowley and striker Leon White.

Colliers Wood began the game the stronger, heading over in the 6th minute after a clever ball had been lofted into the box. The home side responded immediately with Hussain giving the spectators a glimpse of his ability, powering down the left wing and playing a neat one-two before putting a good cross into the box. In the 10th minute City won a freekick around 25 yards out but the shot was well held by Mark Longley, the Woods keeper. A minute later the visitors had a chance of their own but a close range shot failed to trouble the impressive new Guildford custodian Jack Smelt. In the 14th minute City eked out their first good chance of the match, Leon White being put through with a superb pass from the right wing. The Colliers Wood keeper was quick off the mark though and managed to get to the ball just before the City striker, there was a collision and calls for a foul from the Guildford fans who claimed Longley had gone in ‘studs up’. No freekick was given however. The visitors came straight back and two minutes later they would surely have scored had it not been for the excellent Darren Annon dispossessing the Woods striker in the box as he was on the brink of pulling the trigger and hoofing the ball to safety. Yet another chance came Colliers Wood’s way moments later but luckily for City they headed over the bar yet again. In the 19th minute Leon White was put through but again Longley was quickly off his line to clear the danger. This represented Guildford’s last chance of the half as Colliers Wood tightened their grip on the game and created a series of good chances. Firstly they shot wide in the 25th minute and then trying unsuccessfully to lob Jack Smelt. On the half hour mark, they again beat the offside trap and advanced on the City goal, perhaps they would have scored had the cross into the box been better but as it was yet another header was put wide. Three minutes later Smelt pulled off an awesome save, blocking a shot fired pretty much at point blank range. The Woods couldn’t keep playing at this pace however and the match settled down again for the next ten minutes before exploding back into life in the 43rd minute – Smelt making yet another vital save, diving to deflect the shot behind and then easily claiming the resultant corner kick.

Halftime was spent checking up on the football scores and discussing City’s prospects in the second half. Much was made of yet another impressive display between the sticks by Jack Smelt but no-one was confident City could avoid conceding in the second half.

City began the second period, benefiting from some new blood in defence and seemed to be better organised to handle the visitors’ rampaging attacks which had caused so many problems in the first half. Still, the first ten minutes or so was spent with Colliers Wood very much in the ascendancy possession-wise but less able to create chances. In fact the first real chance of the half eventually fell to City some fifteen minutes in. Simon Sheppard made a powerful run down the right wing and picked out Joe Loyza whose shot was unfortunately blocked and eventually put behind for a corner. Although Guildford could make nothing of the resulting set piece they scored moments later – a slide rule pass being put into the box and finding Martin Beard unmarked at the far post to easily tap home. As you might expect there was pandemonium on the terraces but also a greater sense of tension – suddenly Guildford really had something to lose and Colliers Wood showed little sign of throwing in the towel. Five minutes after the goal it really should have been 1-1 but for yet another superhuman piece of goalkeeping by Smelt. Hinga Amara was put through and there seemed no way he could fail to beat the Guildford keeper. Yet somehow Smelt got to the ball just as Amara was about the shoot and pushed it away from his foot!

The stakes were rising by the second and tempers started to boil over on the pitch, Leon White and Marc Hudson having a spat in the 72nd minute earning them both a booking. Things got worse for the Woods moments later when Mark Longley was injured and had to be subbed – Ryan Hughes, an outfield player taking his place in goal for the remainder of the half. Nevertheless Colliers Wood had another copper-bottomed chance in the 79th minute, the ball falling to one of their strikers just 5 yards out, yet again though the gods were smiling on City and he somehow managed to spoon the ball over the bar. Guildford needed to make the game safe and the chance nearly came in the 81st minute, Leon White being put through on goal. Somehow Hughes got to the ball first and hit a daisy-cutter which could have gone to anyone but luckily for him was hoofed to safety by one of his defenders. A minute later The Woods won a freekick in a dangerous area which was punched out, continental style, by Jack Smelt. Another chance came the visitors way in the 85th minute when they beat the offside trap but could only shoot across the face of goal. Three more corners followed for The Woods, none causing any problems for City’s defence, plus a highly dubious freekick on the edge of the box which was put wide by Ramzi Bedj Bedj. Somehow though, City made it through 6 minutes of injury time to record an unlikely victory.

GUILDFORD CITY: J. Smelt; Jake Rowley; M. Burns; J. Hamsher (sub D. Hunt, 45); D. Annon; M. Beard; S. Sheppard; A. Vine; Leon White (sub J. Heather, 90); J. Loyza; Ziyaad Hussain (sub A. Azeem, 64)

Sub not used: A. Smillie

COLLIERS WOOD UTD: M. Longley (sub R. Hughes, 75); M. Hudson; J. Frimpong (sub C. Beard, 74); A. Hallett; S. Mead; N. Wynne; D. Taylor; P. Hughes; H. Amara; R. Bedj Bedj; D. Hughes (sub T. Abbey, 80)

Subs not used: None